Phased return to labs to revive research at DU

In an attempt to revive the research education, the Delhi University (DU) has allowed phased entry of registered PhD students, whose presence in the laboratory is essential. Before joining the research laboratory, candidates need to obtain a certificate from their respective supervisor and further endorsed by the head of the department or director of the centre.

“Getting a certificate to join the lab may be easy, but continuing the research work will not be simple. Establishing communication among the team, monitoring the experiments, supply from vendors etc are among other immediate challenges for PhD scholars,” says Ranjay Shaw, research scholar, Department of Chemistry, Delhi University (DU). Ranjay, a native of Dhanbad in Jharkhand has been living in Delhi for the last five years. He could not go to his hometown due to lockdown.

Speaking to Education Times, Ranjay says those in the middle of their PhD are comparatively better placed than those who were supposed to finish their PhD by the end of April.

“I had submitted my pre-synopsis before the start of the lockdown in March and was planning to complete other pending works by the mid of April. Had it not been the adverse situation due to Coronavirus, I would be applying for job interviews,” says Ranjay, who is now struggling to manage with finances, as his fellowship duration is over. “PhD submission is yet to be completed and the current situation has left me in the lurch.”

BK Singh, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, North Campus, says that bringing students back to work with the same enthusiasm will take some time. “Those who join PhD soon after their postgraduate are enthusiastic. There might be a decline in motivation as they are re-joining work after a gap of five months. They have to redo the same experiments which could not be completed due to imposition of lockdown and closure of educational institutions,” says Singh. He adds that the outbreak of COVID-19 has a cascading effect on PhD candidates as uncertainty continues to loom.

“Halt on education activities, non-payment of stipend during the lockdown are other problems faced by research scholars,” says Singh.

Initially, the university has allowed only senior PhD students. “Depending on the outcome, gradually junior researchers will also be allowed,” he adds.

The department has prepared a slot to allow students in their respective laboratories to restart their work. At any given time, the total number of students will not exceed 2-3 students per research laboratory.

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